On Friday afternoon I submitted my absentee ballot for next month's U.S. presidential election. As that ballot makes its way from Halifax, Nova Scotia to a Town Clerk's office in Michigan the news of Donald Trump's latest bombast broke. This wasn't just a gaffe. It was gross. If I really wanted to, I could spend the whole weekend breaking down the social, psychological and political implications of Trump's latest sexist statement. But I won't.
I don't need to overthink this one.
We don't need to wrestle with academic theory on this.
Donald Trump is a Dirty Old Man. Period.
This certainly isn't the first offensive thing Mr. Trump has said -- and it surely won't be the last. But in my mind, it's the only evidence we need to make up our minds about this man. Language matters. The nouns and verbs we choose to use say something about who we are and how we see the world. To some degree, they must be connected to how we act in the world. They aren't merely the matters of high school English class.
"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything." - Donald Trump
While Trump surrogates quickly excused the language as the "locker room talk" of a 59-year-old man, I have found myself confused as to why this would be a viable excuse for anyone over the age of 15 or 16. While traditions of misogyny and harassment are terrible things to see at any age -- what's worse is hearing a major party candidate for President of the United States using the excuse of "all the other middle school boys were doing it too".
Let's not lose track of the fact we're talking about a 70 year old, thrice-married, beauty-pageant owner talking about the "bitches" he is trying to bed.
If that's not Dirty Old Man syndrome, I don't know what is.
Donald Trump's vulgar words reveal a vulgar character.
The excuse is laughable. Most men do not, in fact, speak like this. But more importantly, every single man, boy and child that does carry this sort of rhetoric forward should be confronted and held to account. It's not just "locker room talk". It's not "boys-being-boys". It's gross. It's toxic -- and it hurts everyone.
Men embracing this language are less than what they could be. They're insecure, small, and broken in some way. In wrestling with their own insecurity they find themselves lashing out to make other humans less... human. And the women confronted with these attitudes are not only left with the fallout from varying degrees of verbal, physical, and sexual assault -- they have to navigate the road to recovery while carrying all this excess baggage from weak, insecure men.
The weight of this baggage has never been more clear to me than it is today. Since the release of the Trump tape, I've done my best to avoid simply mansplaining why this is so bad. I listened to my wife. I put out an open invite for feedback from the women in my Facebook sphere.
I've been transfixed by NY Times best-selling-author and Twitter all-star Kelly Oxford's (@KellyOxford) #NotOkay timeline in which thousands of women have shared their everyday experiences with sexual assault and the regularity with which half of our population is grabbed -- as Donald Trump would say -- "by the p***y".
The one thing made abundantly clear to me through these stories is that the words of Donald Trump are not simply words attached to nothing -- floating in the ether. These are words (that matter), attached to actions (that matter), connected to women (who matter). Yes, the words speak to attitudes that Donald Trump so clearly holds. But the words also speak to actions that Donald Trump has not even begun to deny.
The truly scary words from Donald Trump's mouth deal with his celebration of non-consent. Donald Trump trumpets the fact that he can sexually assault women and get away with it because he's a "star".
When Donald Trump says: "I just kiss. I don't even wait", it is worth finishing out that thought. What doesn't Donald Trump wait for? What he's not waiting for is "CONSENT".
When Donald Trump says: "When you're a star...You can do anything..." he, again, is not waiting for CONSENT. Yes, these aren't the most lewd words used by in the exchange -- but they are the most problematic. The truly scary words from Donald Trump's mouth deal with his celebration of non-consent. Donald Trump trumpets the fact that he can sexually assault women and get away with it because he's a "star".
In a step that I certainly never imagined taking -- I'm going to encourage everyone I know to check out Teen Vogue. They've done an amazing job of compiling and contextualizing Kelly Oxford's #NotOkay submissions. As you read message after message after message...the truth is heartbreakingly clear. Donald Trump's vulgar words reveal a vulgar character -- which is connected to the sort of vulgar, criminal actions that thousands of women have bravely detailed this past weekend.
As my absentee ballot makes its way back home to Michigan, I could not be happier that I ticked the box for Secretary Hillary Clinton. She is far from a perfect candidate and my support is certainly not starry-eyed. But a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote against one particular Dirty Old Man, named Donald J Trump. And the reality of a woman stepping into the role of "unofficial leader of the free world" is a vote against Dirty Old Men everywhere. That's a change worth voting for.ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
"Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy," McCain said in a statement.
Ayotte never formally endorsed Trump, but said she was withdrawing her support."I wanted to be able to support my party's nominee, chosen by the people, because I feel strongly we need a change in direction in our country. However, I'm a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate who brags about degrading and assaulting women. I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Governor Pence on election day."
"I'm out. I'm pulling my endorsement," Chaffetz said in an interview on Friday."I can not support in any way, shape or form the comments or approach Donald Trump has taken. This is so over the top, it is not even acceptable in locker rooms. It shouldn't be acceptable anywhere. We are talking about the president of the United States. I want someone of high moral values."
"I'm incredibly disappointed in our party's candidate. And unlike the Democrats who have proven completely unwilling to hold secretary Clinton accountable for her illegal activities that endangered our national security, I am willing to hold Mr. Trump accountable. I am therefore calling for him to step aside and to allow Mike Pence to lead our party.
"Donald Trump's comments regarding women were disgraceful and appalling," Byrne said in a statement. "There are absolutely no circumstances when it would ever be appropriate to speak of women in such a way.""It is now clear Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States and cannot defeat Hillary Clinton. I believe he should step aside and allow Governor Pence to lead the Republican ticket."
"I will no longer support the guy at the top of the ticket," Hardy said on Saturday.
"Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately," Thune tweeted.
“I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump,” Heck said on Saturday. “Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump.”
"We need national leaders who can lead by example on [sexual assault and domestic violence]. The reprehensible revelations about Donald Trump have shown me that he can't. Therefore I am withdrawing my support for his candidacy," Sullivan said in a statement.
"I have committed my short time in Congress to fighting for the most vulnerable in our society. As a strong and vocal advocate for victims of sex trafficking and assault, I must be true to those survivors and myself and condemn the predatory and reprehensible comments of Donald Trump," Wagner said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. ""I withdraw my endorsement and call for Governor Pence to take the lead so we can defeat Hillary Clinton."
"The abhorrent comments made by Donald Trump are inexcusable and go directly against what I've been doing in Washington to combat assaults on college campuses. Because of this, I am rescinding my support for Donald Trump and asking to have my name removed from his agriculture advisory committee. With the terrible options America has right now, I cannot cast my vote for any of the candidates, so I hope Donald Trump withdraws from the race so the American people can elect Mike Pence as our next president," Davis said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"As a woman, a mother, and a grandmother to three young girls, I am deeply offended by Trump's remarks, and there is no excuse for the disgusting and demeaning language. Women have worked hard to gain the dignity and respect we deserve. The appropriate next step may be for him to reexamine his candidacy.
Garrett said that Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, would be "the best nominee for the Republican Party to defeat Hillary Clinton," according to the AP.
"I will not vote for Donald Trump,” he said in a statement. “If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so — step aside, and allow Mike Pence to be the Republican party’s nominee. If he fails to do so, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton but will instead write-in my vote for Mike Pence.”
"The comments made by Mr. Trump were disgusting and totally unacceptable under any circumstance. It would be wise for him to step aside and allow Mike Pence to serve as our party's nominee," Fischer said in a statement.
"I endorsed Governor John Kasich for President, because I felt like he was the most qualified and the best person to lead our nation. I certainly won't vote for Hillary Clinton, but I cannot and will not vote for Donald Trump," Bentley said in a statement.
“As the father of three young sons, I don’t want my boys growing up in a world where the President of the United States is allowed to speak or treat women the way Donald Trump has,” Rooney said in a statement. "“My greatest responsibility in life is to try and be a good husband and father. If I support Donald Trump, I will be telling my boys that I think it is okay to treat women like objects – and I’ll have failed as a dad.”
"I will not be voting for him,” Paulsen said in a statement.
“Saying this election has been incredibly disappointing is an understatement. It never had to be this way. We should be debating the issues that affect our nation’s future. Instead we have two horribly flawed choices. It is clear that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton can unify a deeply divided country.“I have repeatedly and strongly spoken out against Mr. Trump when he degrades and insults women, minority groups and Gold Star military families. I will not vote for a candidate who boasts of sexual assault. It is my conclusion that Mr. Trump is unfit to be President.“Similarly Secretary Clinton’s dishonorable actions – flagrantly ignoring federal laws, repeated failures in judgment on critical foreign policy and national security decisions, and intentionally lying to Congress and the American people – have disqualified her.“I cannot support and will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States. I will write in Governor Mike Pence for President,” LoBiondo said in a statement.
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